[ Author’s note: This additional text appeared in the audio version.
Hello, this is Kaye! I have a few quick updates before this week’s chapter. Also, I’m recording this before sunset, so you may hear the birds in a nest outside. Epiphany includes a heavy use of constructed languages. And guess what! George from the Conlangery podcast interviewed me about Epiphany, conlangs, and a bunch of other stuff. You can head over to conlangery.com and listen. Conlangery is a really good podcast, and I encourage you to take a look if you’re interested in conlanging.
You can now find me at ko-fi.com/kayeboesme. If you like Epiphany and would like to contribute, you can do so in coffee-sized increments there. Also, last but not least, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or wherever you download your podcasts.
Thank you for listening! And now on to Chapter 19. ]
Today, Akah Kara asked me about my ambitions in the Progressive Movement.
It would dishonor my family if I said that I had none, but the converse could also damage them: I have more ambition than any man or woman I know, and I have withheld it from these pages as much as possible. Ambition becomes a darkness when a person possesses it without a mind for ler family.
I think about my family, of course, but my impatience has a cause. I want my actions to ripple down through history, even if no one remembers me specifically. The hubris of wanting others to remember me like this cannot be underestimated.
The Progressive Movement has a sense of purpose and history, and I like its political platforms. Humanity can achieve anything as long as we work together. Everyone born on each of the worlds must receive equal treatment, and the Karatha and nuamua should receive no special status. This is something I firmly believe. I have reflected on Daybreak’s opinion that Ameisi humans are inferior to those from the other gardens, or even the Taritit, and it makes my temples pound.
Nothing justifies what my family paid for in blood under the Taritit. My grandmother and grandaunt fought for our freedom, and one of them died. How could those awful people on the train think that the Ịgzarhjenya would ever support them? Shija controls the national culture, and they control the monarchy, but if the Narahji have learned anything, it is that no one should feel like le is less worthy of self-governance than anyone else.
As far as Shiji culture is concerned, I am acclimating. Galasuhi refers to more than just the people living within Galasu. Galasuhi is the divide between people in the office from Eastern and Western Shija, and the former call themselves by this term.
Akah Heivetve (from the communications staff) and I were eating in the rooftop garden together, and some of the people around us started speaking Shiji. Ler family does not speak Shiji, and many of the Galasuhi families in Eastern Shija refuse to allow their children to learn it. Galasuhi Tveshi is almost like formal Tveshi, but with fewer irregular verbs. Le says I sound stilted. I can work on that.
When we went back downstairs, Akah Kara looked up and asked me, “What do you plan on doing with your life, Akah Nitañi?”
Akah Heivetve turned to go, and I nodded. Le twisted ler head back towards me and said, “My family keeps an open breakfast table on the fifth days of the week, if you ever want to come and visit.”
I smiled at lim and said that I obviously would go. Then, I addressed Akah Kara’s question. Ler attention had turned back to the screens, which glowed against ler face and light-toned clothing. I bit my lower lip and said, “I’m very ambitious, Tveihau.”
Tveihau is a word I learned from Heivetve at lunch, an archaic masculine counterpart to akah. They don’t teach it in the Tveshi classes in Narahja. According to Heivetve, it has come back recently in formal speech. I don’t think that there’s something special for jomela. It doesn’t seem appropriate.
Akah Kara looked up from ler screens, and in the silence, I continued, “I plan on being active in the Progressive Movement as long as I can. After four years, I will petition the ruler for a political appointment working with Narahja, perhaps under one of ler advisers. If not, I will run to represent Narahja in the Senate in 1870.”
Ler brow furrowed, and le opened ler mouth and closed it twice before responding. “Is that because your matriarch expects it, or do you want it?”
“I want it. My grandmother raised me to think about the country. Narahja needs a better voice than it has, especially considering the protests. I would need to be louder and more vocal than almost everyone in the Senate.” I walked farther into the room and sat down in the chair across from ler desk. Ler scrutiny made me feel lightheaded. “The Progressive Movement is the way for someone like me to do that.”
Le leaned back in ler chair and studied me silently. At last, le said, “True, you were raised like that. It was a good day when your family’s matriarch contacted us in 1839 and brought your family in. Your grandmother’s influence is considerable. There are things that you would need to do before that.”
“Have you ever met one of the nuamua?”
My shoulders tensed. “Yes, at the end of Hikol.”
“You should be vigilant about the muakanua.” Akah Kara grimaced. “It can dash dreams, and if that was your first time meeting one, you should look for fatigue and pain. I have heard that it hurts considerably. You look tired, and you mentioned headaches.”
“I haven’t slept well.”
“There is a situation with a friend,” I said, “and I am being torn in two directions. It’s not the muakanua.”
I kept my anger in check, thank Gods, because hearing that from lim made my shoulders tense and a pit start crawling up my stomach and into my chest. Liga, do you know what it is like to hear that from someone?
The Progressive Movement does have a position of neutrality with regards to the nuamua. For most of us in Narahja, however, it is an issue of propriety. It is not good to associate with them or to benefit them. Sehịnta wouldn’t have wanted that. Le had a policy of execution. We haven’t killed them since the 14th century, but there are limits.
I cleared my throat and said, “Tveihau Kara, forgive me if I sound like I am talking back. I have stress in my family life because my cousins and aunts have asked me to start courting again, and the memory of Kelis will not leave me alone. The muakanua would be easy in comparison to this.”
Akah Kara laughed. “Akah Nitañi, do you know how much it is rumored to hurt?”
“Be on edge for a few weeks,” le said.
“What do you mean?”
“I would feel better if you did. This is the concern of an old man, but I want to see you grow in the Progressive Movement, and we will lose so much if you go.”
Le remained silent for a long time, and I hardly moved from where I sat in front of lim. Finally, le smiled and forced a chuckle out of ler throat.
I am still angry. I need to write a scatter diagram.
childhood memories dances sunlight dawn drumming
dying gods sacred friendship heartbeats thunder dispelled illusions terror Liga
painted hands kissing in the rain spinning in dresses Daybreak
bird-filled skies fulfillment children writing
summer in the community real returns canyons
hidden tears purpose daydreams sweet nut milk fear fucking muakanua
hotåkhi incursions on my privacy
I will not be just another overambitious demi-traitor. I will hit the target with my arrows.